On the boardwalk, the mangrove forest in Gazi village, a few kilometres from Kisite Mpunguti is picturesque. It is a perfect chill-out spot in South Coast, about 50 kilometres from Mombasa town.
The wind blows swiftly as the trees dance to the tune of the air. We are seated on wooden benches in Indian Ocean. The scattered old canoes with fish nets at the shore of Mwakore creek define the fishing culture of the Gazi and Makongeni villages.
We had travelled by road to these villages. Besides the charm of the sea and coconut trees, the village is unspoilt and most houses are mud-and-grass thatched. From the benches, you can see six of the nine mangroves species in Kenya. There is a restaurant that is thatched with makuti.
Mariam Shikeli, who serves as the chairlady of Gazi women, says they cook Swahili and sea foods from viazi karai, red snapper, coconut chicken curry to tamarind juices. The boardwalk is raised one metre high and one can have a better view of the numerous crabs in the sand which Ms Shikeli said have increased in number since the mangrove conservation started.
The best spot on the boardwalk is the jetty. From the shed, I could see the fish jumping and also watch the white Egrets birds on the other side.
Mwakore creek at Gazi bay is also a fish breeding ground. Fish like red snapper, shrimps, grouper and Lutjanus fulviflama have found a home in the congested mangrove bay.
Also, I could catch a glimpse of the Chale Island, a rich man’s playground and which can be reached by a boat.
“One can also ride on a boat to get a closer look at the birds and the fish,” said Ms Shikeli.
This is a perfect place for get-togethers where you can have snacks as you enjoy the breeze from the ocean, watching the birds and fish.
The mangrove has protected sea grass and the coral reefs from silting. They also act as natural protection from sea storm and prevent erosion.
Tourists pay a small fee to walk on the boardwalk, money set aside for buying books and paying teachers in the local schools.
“During high seasons, we get many visitors, foreigners and locals,” said Ms Shikeli.